Iowa men’s basketball notebook | Preparing for a rematch with Rutgers

The Hawkeyes defeated the Northwestern Wildcats, 112-76, in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals.


Dimia Burrell

Iowa guard Tony Perkins shoots a layup during a men’s basketball game between No. 5 Iowa and No. 12 Northwestern in the Big Ten Basketball Tournament at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Thursday, March 10, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Wildcats, 112-76.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

INDIANAPOLIS — A day after scoring a season-high and Big Ten Tournament record 112 points in a win over Northwestern, the Iowa men’s basketball team will face off against the only team to hold it below 50 points this season.

No. 5 seed Iowa faces No. 4 seed Rutgers at approximately 1 p.m. CT on Friday in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. In the only meeting between the teams during the regular season, the Scarlet Knights defeated the Hawkeyes, 48-46, in New Jersey. Iowa had a 10-minute stretch in that game where it did not make a shot from the floor. Over the final 13 minutes of the loss, the Hawkeyes scored just eight points.

The Hawkeyes are prepared to avenge their lowest offensive output of the season.

“It’s a team we only played once this year, and it was a game we all felt like we should have won,” Iowa forward Keegan Murray, who scored 26 points on Thursday, said. “I think for us, we wanted this game. We got it now. It’s just putting pieces together, putting together a scouting report, and getting reading for a really physical team.”

Iowa set single-game conference tournament records in points scored (112), 3-pointers made (19), margin of victory (36 points), and field goals made (43) in its 112-76 win over Northwestern in the second round of the conference tournament on Thursday. Rutgers will present a different challenge.

The Hawkeyes (83.3 points per game) hold the Big Ten’s best offense, while Rutgers has the second-ranked defense (65.2 points allowed per game). Rutgers plays at a much slower pace than Iowa, and will try to dictate its style of play on Friday. Northwestern head coach Chris Collins said his team tried to slow down Iowa’s fast-paced offense on Thursday, but ran into a “buzzsaw” instead — Iowa’s hot shooting and ability to score quickly in transition.

Iowa hopes those traits carry over to the quarterfinals but know a challenge awaits.

“You show up in this tournament, whoever you’re playing against, you’d better be ready,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “Anybody that you show up to play against can beat you, and we feel like anybody we show up to play against, we can beat them.”

Tony Perkins continues to make an impact

Iowa is 9-2 since Tony Perkins was inserted into the starting lineup at shooting guard and Jordan Bohannon was shifted back to point guard.

That’s not a coincidence.

Bohannon and Fran McCaffery raved about Perkins after Thursday’s game. The sophomore only scored six points, but grabbed four rebounds and dished out a career-high six assists while playing standout defense on the perimeter. In Iowa’s regular season finale, Perkins scored 17 points, recorded 12 rebounds, and assisted on five baskets.

“I think he’s made extraordinary strides,” Bohannon said. “What you’re seeing now is a much more confident Tony. He’s able to do a lot off the dribble and be confident with not only his scoring, but he’s doing a really good job of finding other people. That’s why he’s taking his game to another level. He’s always been a great scorer, but now he’s realizing he can use that to his advantage and help really open up other people’s games.”

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Fran McCaffery noted that Perkins has always been a combo guard with the ability to distribute the ball. Iowa’s 12th-year head coach also called Perkins one of the best rebounding guards he’s ever been around.

But that wasn’t the only praise Iowa’s effort on the glass received postgame.

Iowa, a team that early in the season was consistently being outrebounded — including by 29 in its first matchup against Illinois — won that battle against Northwestern, 45-18.

“Even though they don’t have the big bodies that maybe some of the other teams do, collectively I think they’re the best offensive rebounding team in the conference,” Collins said. “With the Murrays, with Rebraca, with Patrick McCaffery, with Perkins — those guys are in there on the boards. They didn’t miss much but when they did, they got their rebounds.”

“I think it was simply just recognition that we had to do better,” Fran McCaffery added. “We have a team that’s capable of rebounding well. We have big wings, we have length, and we have guards who rebound.”

Patrick McCaffery returns to the court

Iowa redshirt sophomore forward Patrick McCaffery was back in the starting lineup on Thursday after missing two of the last three games with a hip injury and a non-Covid-19-related illness.

McCaffery played 18 minutes and scored 10 points (3-of-6 field goals) in his return to the court.

“I thought he was really good,” Fran McCaffery said. “He ran out of gas a little bit. Said he felt good, but he seemed to be a little fatigued. I would have put him back in, but when we were up by 30 points, so we kept him out. He moved without the ball. He was aggressive and attacking. His defense was pretty solid.”